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We present a framework for monitoring and managing enterprise wireless networks using desktop infrastructure. The framework is called DAIR, which is short for Dense Array of Inexpensive Radios.
Prior proposals in this area include monitoring the network via a combination of access points (APs), mobile clients, and dedicated sensor nodes. We show that a dense deployment of sensors is necessary to effectively monitor Wi-Fi networks, and one can not accomplish this using access points alone. An ordinary, single-radio AP can not monitor multiple channels effectively, without adversely impacting the associated clients. Moreover, we show that a typical deployment of access points is not sufficiently dense for several management tasks, particularly those related to security. Due to power constrain mobile devices can provide only limited assistance in monitoring wireless networks. Deploying a dense array of dedicated sensor nodes is an expensive proposition.
Our solution is based on two simple observations. First, in most enterprise environments, one finds plenty of desktop machines with good wired connectivity, and spare CPU and disk resources. Second, inexpensive USB-based wireless adapters are commonly available. By attaching these adapters to desktop machines, and dedicating the adapters to the task of monitoring the wireless network, we create a low cost management infrastructure.
We describe how several common wireless network management tasks can use the DAIR platform. As a demonstrative example, we consider the task of detecting rogue APs, and describe how the DAIR platform can be leveraged to carry out this task effectively.